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Fatehpur Sikri Water Supply System

Fatehpur Sikri Attractions Babur visited the place on the eve of the Khanwah battle in A.D. 1527 and mentioned it as ‘Sikri’ in his Memoirs. He founded here a garden and a Jal-Mahal surrounded by the lake-water, and a baoli (step-well) to commemorate his victory in the Khanwah battle, Akbar (1556-1605), grandson of Babur, decided to develop a capital city in Fatehpur Sikri. He shifted his residence and court from Agra to Sikri, for a period of 13 years, from 1572 to 1585 to honour the Sufi Saint Sheikh Salim Chishti, who resided here (in a cavern on the ridge). Akbar revered him very much as the Saint had blessed him with a son who was named Salim in 1569. He raised lofty buildings for his use, and houses for the public. Thus grew, a great city with charming palaces and institutions. Akbar gave it the name of Fathabad and which in later days came to be known as “Fathpur Sikri”.

Water Supply System
In those days, important buildings and influential people houses were made close and surrounding to water sources. At Fatehpur Sikri, lake was the major source of water. Before it was declared as capital, this village area was self-reliant for water supply. Lake fulfills all water requirement. When Mughal capital was decided to be constructed here, engineers selected upper plains of ridge area which are at more height from lake. Still lake was the major source for water supply to the city. It is having two main source of water i.e. Khari river and rain water. Fr. Monserrate, who visited the Fatehpur Sikir in 1580-81, says that a water tank was constructed, on instruction of Emperor. Two barrage were constructed i.e. Terah Mori and Bawan Mori. In between them, Terah More was situated exactly on the north of the lake, on Agra-Bharatpur road. It is called Terah Mori as it have 13-arches which contained wooden sluices to release excess of water. Similarly in north-east of lake, they constructed Bawan More barrage, comprising 52 sluices. This earthen barrage forms the limit of lake, towards the old township of Nagar. Its excess water was flowed into a rivulet which then passed on towards the east, corssing the Agra-Sikri road, near Kirauli town. This provides water to east of Fatehpur Sikri. To the end of a low lying valley, which was filled with rain water, a great dam was built to assure water supply for times when monsoon ditches. Apart from this, large number of wells and baolis (step-wells) were constructed to use ground water to met irrigation requirement. As these baolis are not in use, they are slowly slowly disappearing but still some of such prominently visible baolis are Indrawali baoli in Indra valley, Octagonal baoli below Hathipol, Shahjahani baoli in garden west to Hathipol Sarai, baoli in west of Bagh-i-fateh, baoli near Matiya Mahal, baoli near Ajmeri Darwaza, Moti Bagh baoli, baoli near Agra Darwaza in Agra road etc. Majority of such baolis are of Akbar period.

Water Harvesting
While making of Fatehpur Sikri, engineers had carefully planned to harvest the rain-water in to such water tanks. They use the water-harvesting techniques to collect the rain-water, as mush as possible for later use. They collects them through slopes and channels. In notes from Abul Fazl, this claim is supported in which he had described that rain-water was mixed with Ganges water and used for cooking food in royal kitchen. It is well known fact that Akbar drinks only Ganges water. They had tanks near Royal Kitchen and office of Muhammad Bagir Sufrachi (Kitchen Superintendent). These tanks still filled with rainwater. Similar rainwater harvesting technique was used in Jami Masjid complex in which rainwater of masjid complex and Salim Chishti tomb was collected. The ceiling water of mosque was directed to the octagonal baoli, located in west of Buland Darwaza. In order to do better rail harvesting, they had tried to cover most of the complex grounds with red sandstones to avoid water wastage to ground and collect them by directing them to such water-tanks. It also means that engineers are well aware of water availability system of region and anticipated the water requirement after settlement of township thus tried to made as much as possible water tanks and preferred rain water harvesting system.

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